US should change its Middle East policy to prevent emergence of a new Baghdadi

By Hisham Abu Bakr Metwally
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, November 5, 2019
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U.S. President Donald Trump makes a statement at the White House following reports that U.S. forces attacked Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in northern Syria, in Washington, U.S., October 27, 2019. [Photo/VCG]

A few days ago, President Donald Trump triumphantly announced the death of Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a special military operation on Syrian soil. 

This was good news for countries that have suffered from terrorist attacks carried out by IS. However, the question is whether the reign of terror has ended with the killing of a notorious leader. Will it continue under new leadership? 

This question still needs some time to be answered given the complex situation in Syria and Iraq, as well as political instability throughout the region.

For decades, the United States has contributed to the creation of large terrorist entities through its foreign policies in many countries. It started from the invasion of Afghanistan with the events of Sept. 11, 2001, followed by the invasion of Iraq in 2003, leading to hundreds of thousands of people being killed as IS rose to fill a political vacuum in parts of the two countries.

The American intervention in the affairs of individual states did not help to create peace and stability as Washington promised, but merely led to prolonged destruction through the creation of violent entities that attracted many followers from and in different countries across the world.

If we look at the situation in Iraq, we will find that the U.S. invasion caused the total destruction of a country wealthy from the oil it produced, and ignited sectarian conflicts between Sunnis and Shiites.

The eventual U.S. withdrawal left behind a political system that was unable to achieve the aspirations of the Iraqi people, promoting a revolution to seek reform and changes so as to build a better future for the country.

The Americans had set specific goals to eliminate the existing regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, without taking into account the goals and interests of the Iraqi people, triggering a war that did not provide anything to the Iraqis, not even offering them security or peace.

The situation in Syria is catastrophic since the outbreak of the Syrian revolution and its violent response led to the formation of various armed militias, which were adopted by other countries such as the United States, which armed the Kurds under the name of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). 

Instead of finding a political solution to stop the bloodshed, the U.S. encouraged and supported the SDF to eliminate the Islamic State in Syria. Now, the U.S. has abandoned the Kurds leaving them to fight a conflict with Turkey.

Thus, the U.S. has not made any political initiatives seeking to reach a lasting and comprehensive solution in Syria.

The American anti-Iran policy has been going on for decades. With the Iranian revolution and the severing of diplomatic relations, the U.S. continued to adopt a hardline policy on Iran. Although President Barack Obama agreed to an agreement acceptable to all parties that could have been used to reach a more durable solution, President Trump was quick to withdraw from this agreement. 

He has continued to escalate sanctions against Iran, leaving the country facing the constant threat of war and pushing the entire Middle East into a new phase of flaming confrontation.

On the issue of Palestinian, Trump's policies are completely aligned with Israel. The latter supports all American moves in the region, considering that getting rid of all the forces opposing its influence is a victory for them.

However, Trump's tendency to impose the fait accompli on the Palestinians and not to negotiate left the Palestinians with no choice but continued resistance.

The Arab countries in general are unhappy with the way the Palestinian issue has been left unattended and the U.S. has lost its position as a mediator between Israelis and Palestinians. Thus, the whole region is aflame. 

The strategic importance of the Middle East for the U.S. has gone since it no longer needs to import oil from the region, so the interests of the people in the Middle East are certainly of no concern to the U.S.

The fact that the U.S. should know is that after the death of Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi appeared in Iraq in the Islamic State, a new terrorist organization featuring even more fierce and popular than that of Osama bin Laden, and the IS was able to control larger swaths of territory in Iraq, Syria and some other countries. 

If the U.S. does not change its policies, another new terrorist organization might emerge. If so, it would be difficult to eliminate, as the U.S. has to do it all by itself thanks to its hostile policies that alienate potential allies.

Hisham Abu Bakr Metwally is the first economist researcher at Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Trade and Industry.

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